SF Board of Supervisors Amend Responsibility Requirements for Public Works Contractors

On July 7, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously amended the San Francisco Administrative Code governing “Public Works or Improvement” projects to modify the definition of “Responsible Bidder/Contractor.” 1 The revisions define a Responsible Bidder/Contractor as a company that “substantiates its record of safe performance,” and considers a company’s prior OSHA violations, workplace fatalities, and OSHA citations in determining whether the company is responsible. 2

The ordinance mandates that contractors be “Responsible” under the amended meaning to be awarded contracts on all Public Works or Improvement projects, including but not limited to Emergency Repairs, Work and Contracts (Section 6.60), Design-Build Contracts (Section 6.61), Hazardous Materials Abatement (Section 6.63), and Contracting for Elevator, Security, Fire Protection or Fire Alarm Systems, Inspection, Maintenance, and Repair Work (Section 6.65). Contracts awarded under emergency circumstances under Section 6.60 of the Code are partially exempt from the Responsible Contractor requirement. On those projects, the awarding department or commission is charged with determining the responsibility of the bidder.

The ordinance is the product of an October 2018 hearing of the Board’s Government Audit and Oversight Committee. 3 At that meeting, Committee members expressed concern about a contractor who marked “no” on a public bid form that asked whether, in the past 10 years, the contractor had been cited for any “serious” or “willful” OSHA violations despite having been cited by OSHA for a worker fatality on an SFMTA project. In the wake of that apparent denial, Supervisors Norman Yee and Aaron Peskin pushed for a more robust vetting procedure for the City’s public contractors, resulting in Supervisor Yee’s ultimate sponsorship of the ordinance. The stated purpose of the legislation is to reduce hazardous conditions and workplace injuries as part of the City and County of San Francisco’s “commitment to safety and well-being” of its residents, visitors, and contractor’s employees.

For questions regarding this ordinance, contact your labor law counsel.

By: Zach Angulo and Jolene Kramer | August 19, 2020


1 The minutes of the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors record the proposed ordinance as passing on June 30, 2020. However, it was actually passed under “Old Business” from the June 30 meeting of the Board Supervisors at the July 7, 2020 meeting. See File No. 200443, “Requirement for Prospective Contractors to Substantiate Safety Record to be Eligible for a Public Works Contract” (updated July 7, 2020), https://sfgov.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4452431&GUID=8691D0E5-FA9B-4413-9E15-35D0F08ECF1F.

2 Board of Supervisors Rules Committee, Agenda Packet for File No. 200443, June 30, 2020, https://sfgov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=8647745&GUID=585EDEED-1EB5-46EA-94AE-7DCA22E69CC5.

3 The ordinance is also pursuant to a recommendation from the Office of the Controller, City Services Auditor, for the Board of Supervisors to adopt a “proactive approach” to “construction safety management and oversight on public works projects to reduce hazardous conditions and workplace safety”.  See Agenda Packet for File No. 200443, June 30, 2020, https://sfgov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=8647745&GUID=585EDEED-1EB5-46EA-94AE-7DCA22E69CC5.

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